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Northpark Animal Hospital

Don’t Let Them Suffer in Silence: Recognizing and Treating Pet Pain

Dog with big stick in its mouth running from a lake

Helping your four-legged best friend when they’re in need is part and parcel of pet ownership. However, it’s not uncommon for illness or injury to go unnoticed – or undiagnosed. Many symptoms are obvious, but others can be extremely subtle, flying beneath the radar of even the most dedicated pet owners.

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month. Even though most owners are tuned in to the habits and behaviors of their pet, we could all use some helpful reminders when it comes to pet pain.

Consistency is Key

Animals love routine. They like to anticipate their next meal, when the backdoor might be open again, and the frequency of play or exercise time. Perhaps the most apparent symptom of pet pain is departure from their normal routine, which may present in the following ways:

  • Decreased appetite

  • Increased lethargy, withdrawal, or downright hiding

  • Changes in bathroom habits

  • Lack of


These symptoms can also be associated with pet pain:

  • Anxiety

  • Increased vocalization, hissing, or whimpering

  • Guarding behaviors

  • Uncharacteristic agitation, aggression, or submissive tendencies

  • Self-mutilation

  • Tail flicking (in cats)

  • Sudden shaking or shivering

  • Excessive panting

  • Limping

  • Displays intense sensitivity when touched

Age-Related Issues

Most pet owners bring their pet in to see us when they notice Fluffy or Fido isn’t jumping up on the couch anymore or they’re reluctant to go down the stairs. Age-related issues, such as joint pain, hip dysplasia, cancer, dental disease, or osteoarthritis, can result in significant pet pain. Pain after surgery is also common.

Senior pet care requires a bit more vigilance and consistency, but together, we can help make your pet’s golden years more comfortable. The following may be considered to help manage pet pain in older pets:

  • Nutritional supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Physical rehabilitation

  • Other prescription pet pain medication

The Future of Pet Pain

Animals do their best to hide or mask symptoms of pain as a method of self-preservation. As a result, it’s incredibly important to be your pet’s health advocate and provide them with the help they need.

Preventing health problems in your pet is our number one priority. If we can be of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Northpark Animal Hospital.